A new twist in Phil-China relationship

 

This is a new twist in the Phil-China relationship that I surely welcome and so should the rest of the Filipino people who feels aggrieved, bullied and disadvantaged over China’s wanton aggression and utter disregard of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty – the international agreement that defines the limits of the territorial seas of nations and the areas in which they could exploit marine resources.

It is now history at what China has done and accomplished in the South China Sea (SCS), of which the West Phil Sea is part of it, and for a little insight you may open this link, among the other pieces I wrote about these controversial seas:  https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/eez/.

If it is of any consolation at least President Rodrigo Duterte has finally found the courage and the aggressiveness to chide China, calling it wrong the latter’s claim of the airspace over their militarized artificial islands in the SCS.

“That is wrong because those waters are what we consider international sea,” Duterte said in a speech before an audience that included foreign guests.

“You cannot create an island, it’s man-made, and you say that the air above these artificial islands is yours,” the president also said.

The logic of this statement is simply profound and, indeed, incontrovertible.

This rebuke from Duterte came in the wake of a repeated warning radioed by the Chinese military to a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon plane to “leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding” while the reconnaissance aircraft flew close to some of the man-made islands.

On this, Duterte said, “I hope that China would temper … its behavior.”

This observation and comments by Duterte did not sit well with Beijing, however, as it ignored Duterte’s chiding, saying and asserting instead that where the man-made islands are in the SCS all are China’s inherent territory and, thus, it has the right to react to foreign ships or aircraft that get close to its islands.

Perhaps piqued by China’s continued arrogance in asserting its supremacy of the airspace over the militarized man-made islands, which for timeless occasions even our own military aircraft patrolling the area receives Chinese radio warnings, Duterte could only issue another relative statement, saying, “You cannot create islands there and claim the sea. That is not an island, artificial islands are not true, are prohibited in the middle sea. ‘Yan nga ang rule diyan eh (That’s the rule there).

Another frustration vented? You bet!

I only hope that in this new twist in Phil-China relationship Duterte will be able to see a lot more to it than meets the eye.

It’s never too late.

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World free of death penalty

 

Pope Francis

At least this is what Pope Francis wants as he showed support for the sixth World Congress against capital punishment that was held in Oslo, Norway a few months back.

What this does in effect is change the Catechism of the Catholic Church – the compilation of official Catholic teaching, where, before, it said that the church didn’t exclude recourse to capital punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

Now the explanation given is that “the previous policy is outdated and that today the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

Well, let me just say here that I am writing this piece not because I agree with this new ruling of the church, but rather it is more about expressing my opinion against it.

Whether one is a member of the Catholic Church or not, this is a matter that people all over should be talking about as it is a universal concern.

I just find it absurd that Pope Francis is calling for a world “free of the death penalty” because he says it violates the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.

Sanctity? Dignity?

What about the sanctity and dignity of the victims that are brutally killed, and that may include sometimes innocent children?

How about those that are mercilessly raped and killed that may include sometimes children, too?

Is there still sanctity and dignity left in the lives of these criminals who consciously take illegal drugs in order to carry out a heinous crime?

What is justice for the victims and their grieving families then if those meted out a death penalty is made to live and enjoy the freedom they don’t deserve, even if it is inside the jail?

If there is a group of people who should be more sympathetic to the victims of any heinous crimes, or any crime for that matter, it should be the priests.

I say, stick it out with the old policy of having recourse for death penalty, if and when warranted.

Death penalty never gets outdated. It continues to be current for those deserving to die.

Dissecting the mind of Trump

I am one of many individuals around the world who continues to wonder, and of course to worry, what has become of the United States of America (USA) with Donald Trump as its president.

It makes one even wonder more if Trump really meant what he said when he made popular his rallying cry, ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA).

Or could it be that, for a populist president like Trump, what he wants his slogan to be, absolutely, is ‘Make Trump Great Again’ (MTGA).

It is for this reason that I reprinted here a very engrossing and thought-provoking article I found published in POLITICO Magazine and authored by Ms. Bandy X. Lee and Mr. Tony Schwartz because I want to share with you how ably and aptly they have dissected Trump’s mind and persona that only confirmed, without any doubt, who we truly believe Trump is and what his ambitions are as the leader of the greatest nation on Earth.

In a way this piece is comforting.

Inside the Mind of Donald Trump

He’s grandiose, deceitful and paranoid—but don’t let him drive you crazy.

By BANDY X. LEE and TONY SCHWARTZ

July 27, 2018

Why is President Donald Trump behaving in ways that seem ever more irrational, impulsive, self-destructive, dangerous and cruel? Many Americans have been shocked by Trump’s behavior, most recently by his taking the side of a known enemy in Vladimir Putin and Russia over his own intelligence community.

It isn’t possible to reliably diagnose any individual from a distance, but it is reasonable to flag clear, observable signs of impairment and to make inferences based on repetitive patterns of behavior. There is a significant difference between diagnosing a specific disorder and analyzing the meaning of the qualities Trump exhibits, such as paranoia, grandiosity, lack of empathy and pathological deceit. Trump’s behavior, we believe, is the predictable outgrowth of this psychological disposition, exacerbated by the stress of the intensifying criminal investigations he faces.

Our assessment is based on descriptions from those who have worked with him, his own voluminous responses to real situations in real time, and above all by our unique vantage points. One of us is a forensic psychiatrist who has treated more than 1,000 individuals with characteristics similar to Trump’s. The other spent 18 months shadowing, observing and interviewing Trump in order to co-write The Art of the Deal.

Trump’s increasing grandiosity is evident in the superlatives he uses to refer to himself—“stable genius” among them—and in the way he has consolidated his power by getting rid of aides and Cabinet members who have challenged his authority. Because no person or circumstance can possibly satisfy his needs, nearly everyone in his life eventually becomes expendable, and he becomes more and more isolated.

Trump’s growing paranoia is reflected in the vitriolic comments he has made about a range of perceived enemies, including Democrats and Republicans, allies in the G-7, the intelligence community, the news media and immigrants. His hunger for absolute power is evident in his bizarrely admiring words about despots, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. His frequent lies reveal his need to redefine reality when the truth doesn’t serve his needs.

Given Trump’s volatility, incuriosity and severely limited attention span, his decisions are not significantly influenced by reflection or analytical reasoning. Because he cannot tolerate even the mildest criticism, he is largely immune to learning and growth. Instead, unable to regulate his emotions, he reacts angrily, and often with threats of revenge, to any challenge to his authority. Even success provides him with only momentary satisfaction.

Trump’s psychological disposition has profound implications for our personal, national and international security. Unfortunately, Americans remain deeply reluctant to talk openly about mental health or to recognize how profoundly it can influence behavior. Because the president’s level of mental impairment is so unusual to observe, it is difficult for most of us to understand what catastrophic desperation such people can feel to fill their own inner sense of emptiness.

Trump described to Tony a cold father with whom his relationship was “almost businesslike” and a mother who was mostly uninvolved in his life. Through Bandy’s work interviewing men who were deprived in childhood of the love and support necessary to develop a core self, she concluded that the stable internal center that holds their beliefs, principles, attachments, loyalties—and even their capacity for humanity—never gets well established.

Instead, most such men become almost completely dependent on others for their sense of self-worth. They become hypersensitive to slights. In the most extreme cases, their envy can prompt them to take sadistic pleasure in tormenting perceived enemies, and those they think are getting more respect than they are. In Trump’s case, his need to demonstrate over and over that he is worthy of admiration overwhelms his capacity to focus on nearly anything else.

While our elected officials and much of the news media have avoided the topic of Trump’s mental health, it is clear that our adversaries have carefully studied his psychological weaknesses and determined how to use them to their advantage, as we saw during his negotiations with Putin and Kim Jong Un. Ironically, our own intelligence community does just this sort of analysis about foreign leaders.

Trump’s grip on reality will likely continue to diminish as he faces increasing criticism, accusations, threats of impeachment and potential criminal indictments. We can expect him to become more desperate, more extreme in his comments, more violent in his threats, and more reckless and destructive in his actions. His latest extreme threat to Iran is one example, and he is likely to return to similar threats to North Korea if he feels that Kim Jong Un is making him look weak and unsuccessful.

So how can we hold onto our own mental health in the face of the danger Trump poses? First, don’t use logic or rationality to try to understand or counter Trump’s statements and behaviors. He is driven not by reason but by negative emotions that are infectious. Trump thrives on creating fear and sowing confusion. He lies without guilt. Don’t match his emotion with your own.

Second, be clearer than ever about your core values, beliefs and principles, and rely on them for guidance and comfort, especially when you are feeling most triggered and fearful. Challenge every day the natural inclination to feel overwhelmed, fatigued or numb in the face of Trump’s behavior. This is what people with his psychological inclinations count on. Trump is aware that whatever he says repeatedly—no matter how outrageous—many people are more likely to believe, or at least to stop resisting.

Lastly, recognize that fear is your enemy. Holding onto the opposites of realism and optimism is the best antidote. James Stockdale, a Navy vice admiral, was imprisoned for eight years in North Vietnam and tortured repeatedly. What he said afterward about how he survived is relevant for anyone dealing with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Bandy X. Lee is assistant clinical professor in law and psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a project leader for the World Health Organization.

Tony Schwartz is the chief executive of The Energy Project and the co-author of The Art of the Deal.

Wild Boars players now Buddhist novices

 

Living up to the name of their team ‘Wild Boars’ for their stamina and staying power, eleven of the 12 rescued Thai football players and their coach are momentarily shedding their feral jerseys in exchange for a tamed novice Buddhist robe. The 12th member of the team, who is a Christian, will not join. For the 25-year-old coach Ekkapong Chantawong it will be his second ordination as a monk.

Buddhist males in Thailand are traditionally expected to enter the monkhood, often as novices, at some point in their lives to show gratitude, often toward their parents for raising them. It’s believed that once a person is ordained they gain merit that is also extended to their parents.

There could not be a more propitious time for the group to make a retreat to a temple not only to comply with their beliefs and whatever superstition there may be but more so to show exceptional gratitude for another lease in life bestowed on them by their God after the amazing rescue efforts by an international cave diving experts.

Praphun Khomjoi, chief of Chiang Rai’s Buddhism office, said the 12 to be ordained will also dedicate their merit-generating act of entering the monkhood to a volunteer diver and former Thai navy SEAL, Samarn Gunan, who died while diving during a mission to supply the cave with oxygen tanks essential to helping the trapped players escape.

“This is a good deed that they will perform, intentionally, for Saman, who sacrificed his life for them,” says Phra Khru Khanti Palatorn, abbot of Wat Tangmin in Chiang Rai and chief Buddhist monk for that district. “They become willing to praise those who have been helping them and to get away from the troubles and the debt they owe people.

All is well that ends well and we wish them all Godspeed!

 

The incredible rescue and amazing power of meditation

 

The world have seen the incredibly daring but successful mission of saving the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in the Tham Luang cave for 18 days, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice session and it became flooded by monsoon rains.

The plight of the boys and their coach, who called themselves the Wild Boars, has captivated not only Thailand, but much of the world – from the heart-wrenching news that they were missing, to the first flickering video taken by a pair of British divers of the cold, anxiously smiling yet calm, dirty and emaciated figures sheltering on a pitch-black ledge surrounded by water and even to the dismaying possibility that the rescue could take months if the monsoon persists exacerbating flooding inside the treacherous cavern.

This was nine days later after being unheard of and their location was about two miles of narrow, flooded passageways from the main entrance. Indeed this was a hell of a place to be in, especially for someone who does not know how to swim.

Efforts to pump water out began immediately as authorities tried to take advantage of a break in monsoon rains.

It was reported that in three stages divers ventured into the claustrophobic caverns to retrieve two boys at a time, giving them a full-face mask for oxygen and tying them with a rope. Each boy was accompanied by two divers, one holding the youngster and a second air tank, while another followed behind. The boys were also given anti-anxiety medication to prevent them from panicking as they were carried and pushed through narrow crevices.

At least 13 specialist divers and 5 Thai Navy Seals were sent in to escort the boys and their coach out.

What an incredible and skillful rescue effort in a perilous situation involving a group of helpless, adventurous individuals in the service for humanity!

But that is not all there is to it.

What makes the whole heroic event also amazingly miraculous is the fact that the boys and their coach were able to survive the 9 harrowing days without food and perhaps, unknowingly, a depleting air for breathing, not to mention the uncertainty of the purity of dripping water being drank.

There is no doubt that credit should go to the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, who, earlier in his life trained as a Buddhist monk for 12 years before he decided to coach the Wild Boars soccer team.

Needless to say that it was meditation performed individually upon instruction of the coach that got the team through in what has started to be their calvary.

​For Buddhists, meditation is a go-to when distressed or in danger.

Meditation is a type of mental training that can increase your focus and compassion for others, among a wide range of other benefits. It calms you by slowing down your heart rate, your breathing and your metabolism, while decreasing cortisol levels, oxygen utilization and carbon dioxide emission. Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands.

No wonder, therefore, that despite the odds the members of the Wild Boars team were facing, they all showed amazing disposition.

 

D-Day has come for the ‘Wild Boars’

 

I am talking of course about the designated-day, or what I call decision-day, that has finally arrived,  as I write, to rescue the ‘Wild Boars’, a Thai soccer team composed of 12 boys ranging from age 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach who have been trapped in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand for more than two weeks now.

The Wild Boar football team went exploring in the Tham Luang cave network after a football game on June 23 and was trapped kilometers deep inside the cave system as floodwaters caused by heavy rains blocked the entrance.

The group was found, dishevelled and emaciated but alive, on a muddy ledge by rescue divers. Since then rescue workers struggled to find a way to extract the team from the cave.

Their ordeal has transfixed Thailand and the rest of the world, as authorities struggled to devise a plan to get the team out through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways that in some places are completely flooded.

“There is no other day that we are more ready than today,” rescue director Narongsak Osottanakorn said, in announcing that 18 divers have gone for the rescue. “Otherwise we will lose the opportunity.”

Osottanakorn was of course referring to the fast coming monsoon rains that could derail the life-saving plans. Rescuers have conceded that evacuating the boys is a race against time or the preparations made ahead, like draining the tunnels, would just go in vain and jeopardize instead the safety of the group.

Thirteen foreign divers and five Thai Navy SEAL divers are taking part in the rescue mission, which could take two to four days.

Aside from the fast approaching bad weather what could be worrisome also is the health of the boys and the fact that none knows how to swim.

Hopefully their determination, their will to live, couple with the surge of adrenaline will get them through these difficult challenges confronting them. They have all shown their indomitable spirit despite all the odds. Now it is just a matter of sustaining their physical and mental toughness.

We can only pray for them and their rescuers and wish them all Godspeed!

 

 

Trump’s brutal immigration policy – Part II

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I will not be saying anything anymore to what is suppose to be Part I of Trump’s brutal immigration policy. Suffice to say that this video not only expresses more words as opposed to a photograph, but also shows candidly and brutally what America is today under Trump’s “zero- tolerance” immigration policy. Simply egregious and pathetic!